NEW YORK (MainStreet) — A hotel built entirely of ice may sound like something from the pages of a storybook, but these magnificent structures actually exist in some of the world's coldest regions. Within their frozen walls, ice hotels offer comfort and luxury to guests, not to mention a truly unforgettable travel experience.
Here are the details on six magnificent ice hotels to discover.
Hôtel de Glace in Québec, Canada
Located just ten minutes from downtown Québec City, Hôtel de Glace is a stunning work of art covering 32,000 square feet and boasting 44 rooms and theme suites. Open from January through March, it also features crystalline ice sculptures, huge snow vaults, a chapel, an ice slide, a bar made entirely of ice, and a Nordic relaxation area with outdoors spas and a sauna.
The regular rooms have one, two or three queen beds, while the theme suites offer a unique design with sculptures and artistic lighting. Among the hotel's promotions is the Nordic Escape, which starts at $180 per person, per night and includes a room with a sleeping bag, welcome cocktail served in an ice glass, access to the Nordic area's hot tubs and sauna, breakfast and all gratuities.
Concerned about the cold? Don't be. In addition to being a great windshield, the thick snow walls keep the Hôtel de Glace well insulated, with inside temperatures remaining in the 20s no matter what the temperature is outside. And while all beds have a solid ice base, they contain a wooden bedspring with a mattress on top. Mattresses are covered with blankets and guests sleep inside ultra-warm arctic sleeping bags.
ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
ICEHOTEL is fittingly situated in a small village in Northern Sweden about 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Created anew each year, the gorgeous structure made of ice and snow covers 5,500 square meters.
Although ICEHOTEL is only open from December through mid-April, its construction is a year-round process. Between March and April, 5,000 tons of ice is harvested from the Torne River and kept in cold storage during spring and summer. Construction then takes place in November and December.
Around 100 people are involved in the construction of ICEHOTEL, half of which are artists commissioned to design particular areas of the hotel.
Various accommodation types are available at ICEHOTEL, including the simple but spacious snow room (March rates start at $246 per person, per night); the ice room, which is furnished with furniture made of ice (March rates start at $308 per person, per night); and the deluxe suite, which features a large bed and seating area made of ice and snow, an en suite sauna and toilet ($1,155 per night).
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta, Norway
You don't have to be an Eskimo to enjoy a night in a real-life igloo. The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta, Norway provides a one-of-a-kind experience in an idyllic setting along the banks of the Alta River.
While the thought of staying in an igloo might make you shiver, the hotel takes pains to make you feel cozy and comfortable. A warm modern service building located next to the Igloo Hotel offers a luggage room where your bags are stored safely during your stay, plus other facilities like toilets, changing rooms, showers and a sauna. The ice rooms contain only your beds, and you can stay extra toasty with natural reindeer hides and sleeping bags. (The hotel recommends that you also wear woolen underwear and a hat during the night, as temperatures in the ice rooms range from the upper teens to the low 20s.)
An overnight stay, morning sauna, breakfast buffet and bus transfer to and from Alta's town center costs about $350 per person, per night.
Snow Village in Lainio, Finland
Snow Village, a complex of ice and snow covering about 20,000 square meters, offers a paradise of sorts for winter travelers. Located above the Arctic Circle in the western part of Finnish Lapland, it's made from about 1,000 truckloads of snow each November. Guests can stay overnight in the SnowHotel, enjoy dinner at the IceBar or sip drinks served in ice glasses at the igloo disco. Snow Village is also adorned with magnificent ice sculpture art through its premises.
Snow Village offers approximately 30 rooms, all made of ice and snow, and individually decorated suites with different themes. Standard hotel rooms cost $165 per person, per night for adults and $96 per child, per night for kids, while the SnowHotel suite costs $440 per night for a double suite and $577 per night for a four-person suite. Both accommodation types include a guided tour inside the Snow Village, high-quality sleeping bags and fleece lining bags, shower and toilet facilities, hot berry juice, buffet breakfast in a warm log restaurant and a diploma to congratulate you on staying overnight in an igloo.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Saariselkä, Finland
Located at the edge of the wilderness in northern Finland, Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort offers visitors a variety of unique accommodations, including cozy snow igloos. Despite Kakslauttanen's quiet and pristine location, the nearest international airport is just 30 minutes away in Ivalo, allowing the resort to attract guests from all over the world.
When you're not relaxing in your igloo, you can enjoy a range of winter activities, including skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, dog sledding and ice fishing. You can also take a reindeer safari, in which local reindeer herders lead you on a relaxing trip into nature, or go "Aurora Hunting," in which you embark on a special trip to see the aurora borealis, the spectacular northern lights.
A one-person igloo costs $344 per person, per night, while a two-person snow igloo cost $249 per person, per night. If you're traveling with a youngster under 12, the hotel charges $172 per child, per night.
Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs Resort in Fairbanks, Alaska
Alaska's Chena Hot Springs Resort doesn't offer an ice hotel in the traditional sense, but it allows guests to rent out its Aurora Ice Museum for the night as an "event" for $650. The Ice Aurora Museum, which also offers daily tours to the public, is created from more than 1,000 tons of ice and snow. Rental guests are invited to stay in the museum's four bedrooms from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. and are provided with warm down sleeping bags, pillows and caribou hides to sleep on.
The Aurora Ice Museum also features an ice bar, overhead chandeliers made of individually carved ice crystals that change color every six seconds to mimic the aurora borealis, and breathtaking ice sculptures in shapes such as a gigantic chess set and life-sized jousting knights.
Thanks to special geothermal technology, the Ice Museum is open year-round to guests, staying a cool 25 degrees at all times. If you can't make it there this winter, feel free to book a trip even when the weather outside is warm.
--Written by Kristin Colella for MainStreet